(urth) the elephant in the room

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Wed Jun 27 14:53:33 PDT 2007

On Wednesday 27 June 2007 14:49, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:
> 1. I find the "Soldier" books the hardest to read of all Wolfe's
> work. I don't know why this should be. Part of it, I suspect,
> is that the artificiality of it is right on the surface; the conceit
> of Latro's memory loss, while poignant and meaningful, also
> creates a surface reason for Wolfe's usual lacunae, making
> it harder to look for meaning in them (Latro isn't suppressing
> unpleasant facts, he just doesn't know a lot of them), while
> at the same time almost forcing a degree of repetition that is
> totally un-Lupine. Because of this, the first two are my least
> reread Wolfe novels, and I chose to reread them prior to
> reading "Sidon," and so only got to "Sidon" this past month.
> 4. But I just don't find a great deal of meaning in these books.
> Partly, I'm sure, because I struggle just to read them, and
> because I've reread them so little; but partly because so
> much *is* on the surface. There seems to be very little
> "hidden stuff" going on, other than whatever is going on
> with the gods of various lands bickering with each other.
> But once you take them as literally existing beings, well,
> that's what gods of that sort *do*.

Interesting.  I think the Soldier series are some of the easiest to read.  In 
part, that's because I agree with point 4 - they also seem the shallowest of 
Wolfe's books.  Some of the action is confusing, largely due to Latro's 
memory issues, but for the most part the books roll along with plenty of 
action and intrigue.  Unlike much of Wolfe's stuff, they don't seem like they 
should have a gold stamp on the cover proclaiming "This Is Literature!"  And 
I don't mean to imply that Wolfe is pretentious - I don't think that he is.  
But his stuff is deep, and the Soldier books, while they have plenty of depth 
to the story, seem more like they're "just" stories to be read primarily for 

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